The birth of tragedy book review_800

The Birth of Tragedy – Nietzsche’s 1st book summarized in 7 sentences

  • Nietzsche’s first book, The Birth of Tragedy is a good starting point for reader’s who wants to read the philosopher’s original work. It’s short, it’s inspired, and it gives the reader a sense of what ideas preoccupied the young professor’s mind.

    In this article and book review you will get a very short summary of The Birth of Tragedy along with learnings from the book. I’ll keep it short and sweet!

A Birth of Tragedy in 7 sentences:

  1. 1. Nietzsche is 24 y/o when he become professor in philology.
  2. 2. In 1872 he writes his first great book on dramatic theory; The Birth of Tragedy.
  3. 3. He found an art form in the classic Athenian Tragedy that transcended the nihilism and horror of a meaningless world.
  4. 4. What he found was an opposition between Dionysian and Apollonian forces; Chaos, Intoxication, Music vs. Order, Self-control and Sculpture.
  5. 5. The tragedy balanced these forces and allowed the spectator to experience in fullness the human condition.
  6. 6. The end of tragedy came with Socrates, through Euripides, who Nietzsche thought ruined the Dionysian/Apollonian balance in tragedy with reason and logic.
  7. 7. Nietzsche found new hope in Wagner’s music as a way to re-establish the balance between the Dionysian and Apollonian in modern art; a possible rebirth of tragedy.

Video Review of The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche

3 Notes from The Birth of Tragedy: 

  • 1. Beautiful works of art compensates for the horror of existence.
    2. Aesthetic Arrest: Freedom from the Will in experiencing a great work of art. The only time except Nirvana or Samadhi where man can be free from the Will. (Schopenhauer)
    3. Is dancing and shouting in a drunken madness to “Killing in the name of” a form of modern Dionysian phenomena? 


I got through a book that is ‘out of my league’ and came out on the other side with new-found confidence in my ability to read philosophy straight from the sources. You might do the same. The Birth of Tragedy is a great starting point for reading Nietzsche.


I got a lot value from this book, both as an introduction to Nietzsche, and to the concept Dionysian/Apollonian opposition. But If you’re unsure if you could stand 129 pages of analysis of Ancient Greek theatre and art theory then you think you should pass on this one.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

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